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Navratilova still a crowd favourite

Martina insists this is her final tournament as a pro, and the crowd at the US Open is determined to give her a proper send-off.

india Updated: Sep 08, 2006 12:31 IST

Martina Navratilova insists this is her final tournament as a pro, and the crowd at the US Open is determined to give her a proper send-off.

Navratilova drew cheers on Thursday every time she and Nadia Petrova won a point in their doubles quarterfinal, which they wound up losing to the top-seeded and defending champion Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 7-6 (1), 6-3.

"We're still learning about each other, but it's a little late now," Navratilova said.

Navratilova still had at least one match left at Flushing Meadows. She teamed with Bob Bryan late Thursday to play Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Frantisek Cermak in the mixed doubles quarterfinals.

Navratilova, who turns 50 next month, retired from the game in 1994 but returned in 2000 to play doubles, occasionally dabbling in singles, too.

"You're only as old as you feel, and I certainly don't feel 49," Navratilova told the crowd after losing the women's doubles match. "I just wanted to inspire people."

It was easy to tell that the crowd was pulling for Navratilova and Russia's Petrova, who were down 5-2 in the first set and came back to force a tiebreaker.

Noticeably quiet when either the American-Australian duo of Raymond or Stosur won a point, the fans made plenty of noise when Navratilova earned one. Raymond used to play on Navratilova's side in doubles.

"It was a tough occasion. I've played against Martina and with her, and it was a tough match knowing it was her last U.S. Open," Raymond said.